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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs   12 January 2012

ASEAN focuses on maritime cooperation

Jan 12, 2012
Jakarta - ASEAN member countries have agreed to further develop their maritime cooperation in the region, Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa said on Wednesday.

"ASEAN foreign affairs ministers have agreed to Indonesia`s proposal to make use of the ASEAN Maritime Forum as an event to discuss maritime cooperation in the region," Marty said through phone after attending the ASEAN Foreign Affairs Ministers` Retreat Session in Siem Reap, Cambodia, earlier in the day.

The minister said the annual ASEAN Maritime Forum would also invite member countries of the East Asia Summit Forum (EAS) to discuss cooperation in the maritime sector.

"ASEAN wants to bring forward the cooperation factor in the maritime sector instead of the problems it is causing in the region," he said.

The maritime sector had long been a challenging factor and sometimes a conflict starter for some ASEAN member countries. Border clashes in the South China Sea between four ASEAN countries and China and also illegal fishing issues are among the maritime problems facing members of the regional organization.

Earlier, during the 19th ASEAN Summit in Bali last November 2011, ASEAN Leaders agreed to promote maritime cooperation, and fight piracy and maritime crimes. The leaders also agreed to tackle transnational crimes and threats, to ensure safe and free international navigation,

The agreement was written into the Bali Declaration on ASEAN Community in a Global Community of Nations or the Bali Concord III signed by the leaders of the ten ASEAN member countries, namely Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam.

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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